ABU DHABI, 19th November 2016 (WAM) – Experts are calling for stricter regulations on violators, but the onus lies on us to ensure safety, a United Arab Emirates newspaper has said.

One more confirmation, said ‘Gulf News’ in a commentary today, if confirmation was ever needed, of the fact that when it comes to driving and using the mobile phone at the same time, people continue to be guilty of it despite laws banning it, despite penalties that are supposed to act as deterrents and despite the awareness that such recklessness could cost them their lives.

The latest road-safety survey has revealed a frightening reality being played out on the roads of the UAE: At least 74 per cent of motorists use a mobile phone while driving. Fifty one per cent in the age group of 22-29 admitted to texting while driving, 25 per cent of drivers said they do not use hands-free devices … the list goes on. Only one figure, a small one, has the temerity to call attention to itself: 26 per cent of drivers do not use phones while driving.

“Does the latter finding offer some reassurance?” The paper asked.

“Not really. On the contrary, it only serves to highlight the stunning lack of common sense among the majority. The ubiquity and pervasiveness of mobile usage has clearly usurped the concern for personal safety as people seem to be unwilling to keep their quotidian communicative pursuits aside and concentrate instead on their personal safety.”

Experts are calling for stricter regulations on the use of mobile phones while driving combined with harsher penalties for violations. But should the onus only be on the authorities? What about we the people? The paper concluded by saying: “When it comes to choosing between our personal safety and the world waiting at the press of a button to invade our space, shouldn’t we be choosing the former? Hopefully, surveys such as these will act as eye-openers and encourage us to make the right choice.”

WAM/bashir